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Brussels, 22 January 2013
302 top researchers awarded €680 million in EU funding
The European Research Council (ERC) is awarding €680 million to 302 senior research leaders in 24 different countries across Europe, in the latest competition for its prestigious 'Advanced Grants'. With up to €2.5 million per project, the funding allows these scientists to pursue their most ground-breaking ideas at the frontiers of knowledge together with their own teams. The projects selected cover a wide range of topics. A scientist and his team in France will develop new models to explain certain physical phenomena like superconductivity A team based in Latvia will bring together computer science, physics and mathematics to assess the advantages and limits of quantum devices. Another grant goes to a researcher in Italy who will look at how economic actors form and change their beliefs about their environment and about each other, by adding emotional and psychological features to the existing models.
Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The ERC continues to identify the very best researchers. ERC funding is leading to an increasing number of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, as well as more publications in recognised scientific journals. Promoting frontier research at the highest level is vital for Europe's competitiveness, and this is why we have proposed to increase the ERC budget as part of our Horizon 2020 programme."
In this Advanced Grant competition, some 2,300 applications were submitted to the ERC, which is a slight rise from that of the last year (4.5%). The call budget of €680 million also saw a minor increase. The number of researchers selected for funding rose slightly, from 294 to 302, while the rate of successful applications remains steady at 13%. Advanced grants are awarded to well-established top researchers of any nationality or age, who are scientifically independent and with a recent research track-record and a profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s).
ERC grants target top researchers of any nationality who are based in, or willing to move to Europe. In this Advanced Grant call, the selected candidates hold 32 different nationalities, with British, German, French, Dutch and Italian researchers being the most numerous. They will conduct their research projects in over 160 institutions across 24 different European countries. As the largest countries in the EU, the UK, France and Germany host the greatest number of successful candidates. However, relative to population size the most successful researchers are based in the Netherlands, Denmark, UK and Cyprus of the EU countries, and Switzerland and Israel of the countries associated with the EU research programme. This reflects the high quality of the research in these countries, which generally follows from long-term investment in research.
Of the senior scientists receiving grants in this call, 11 applied from outside the European Research Area (EU Member States plus countries associated to the Framework Programme for Research). This is an increase from the last Advanced Grant call. The majority are Europeans returning to their home countries; most were based in the United States, one in Canada and one in Lebanon. There are three Americans amongst the selected scientists moving from the US to carry out their ERC-funded research at a Host Institution in Europe. In addition, 21 of the selected researchers hold a non-European nationality, but were already based in Europe.
Just over 15% of selected researchers are women, which is a rise from last year's 12%. The average age of the researchers to be funded is 51 years.
In this call, 45% of selected proposals were in the 'Physical Science and Engineering' domain, 37% in 'Life Sciences', and 18% in 'Social Sciences and Humanities'. The grantees were selected through peer review evaluation by 25 panels composed of renowned scientists from around the world.
Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research. The ERC, which is the newest, pioneering component of the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme ('Ideas' Specific Programme), has a total budget of €7.5 billion from 2007 to 2013. The European Commission has proposed a significant boost of the ERC budget to over € 13 billion in the new framework programme "Horizon 2020" (2014-2020).
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